Is the thought of being in public without a mask making you anxious?

New CDC rules about wearing face masks are, in one sense, a beautiful sign of better days to come and being able to socialize again, at least for those who have been vaccinated.


Think barbecues, going to the beach, and celebrating the upcoming Memorial Day weekend without having to count the number of family members or friends invited.


Or more tamely, simply being able to grocery shop without the familiar facial mask.


So why is the thought of being indoors with a group of strangers without a mask making some of us uneasy?


On a personal level, are we ready to let go of the emotional safety a mask offers? Even more importantly, are we ready, on a public health level, to begin transitioning away from wearing masks in public?


And, how can we be sure?


Most of us have been wearing masks for the past 14 months and whether we like them or not, we’ve become accustomed to them. Even if we’re ready to ditch them forever, taking things slowly and staying within our comfort levels is a smart move for this transitioning period.


Try not to add to your stress by getting ahead of your emotional boundaries around contact with others. Be patient with yourself as much as you can.


As people’s behaviors change, having a plan for what you’ll do before you head out in public will help. It allows you to check in emotionally and assess how you feel about being in a specific space with or without a mask, before you’re immersed in the situation.


And, as you begin leaving your mask in your purse or pocket, it’s also important to understand that there is no right way to feel around going mask-less and offer that same compassion to others who may make different choices than you.


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